My Top 5 Favorite Plants for My Garden
WOW! I am so excited! I just decided to plant my new garden this year. There are so many wonderful and yummy fruits and veggies and herbs that I could plant; and they’re all so healthy for me. Which ones should I choose? Come and walk with me through the garden department of my favorite home improvement store and the plant nursery just down the road. We can walk and talk about my top 5 favorite plants for my garden – and, maybe you’ll get some ideas for your own garden.
I can’t believe the plant selection as I cruise up and down the aisles – tomatoes, cucumbers, a beautiful and colorful array of squash and peppers, onions, potatoes, lettuces, artichokes, asparagus, corn, green beans – berries of all types and colors, apples, peaches, citrus and melons! WOW! How can a person decide what to plant? Let’s talk a bit about my personal top 5 favorites for my garden.
I have been a tomato lover since I could hardly walk. In fact, if it’s a fruit or veggie, then I will most likely eat it. It is my opinion that no self-respecting salad would EVER consider being served without being crowned with these luscious, crimson spheres or slices. Did you know that the tomato actually has more beneficial nutrients than an apple? It is low calorie, zero cholesterol, excellent source of potassium and vitamin A and is loaded with antioxidants to help prevent cancer and many other major diseases. So, not only does this top 5 favorite taste great – it’s good for you, too.
Tomatoes come in many varieties and shapes and range in size from little cherry tomatoes (approximately 1 inch or less in diameter) to the beefsteaks (3 inches in diameter or larger). The plants will mature, bear the fruit and ripen the fruit anywhere from 62 to 75 days from germination, depending on the variety you choose. They are pretty easy to grow and about the worse thing you need to be concerned with when growing them is caterpillars or cutworms that will eat into the fruit. They live on the underside of the leaves and the plants need to be treated to get rid of them. A teaspoon of Dawn dishwashing detergent in a gallon of water and sprayed directly on all sides of the leaves works great to rid the plants of these pests.
This top 5 favorite is also pretty important for that self-respecting salad I mentioned above. My personal favorite is romaine, but there are some other excellent and nutritious varieties like: arugula, butter or Boston lettuce, Little Gems, Lambs Lettuce, Mesclun, Oak leaf lettuce and watercress. This is, by no means, a complete list of the different varieties of lettuce available to plant and grow. But, I think you can see by even this partial list that there are many to choose from – and these are only leaf lettuce varieties. There are still many varieties of head lettuce from which to choose. Lettuce grows well in almost any type of garden, soil and weather permitting. It doesn’t grow as well in hotter temperatures and extra care is needed as it can “go to seed” and become bitter when the temperatures go up. The really cool part about growing lettuce is that the plants are large enough to begin harvesting leaves in about 3 to 4 weeks if you started with seedlings. You can literally eat it while it is growing!
This top 5 favorite is available in some pretty amazing colors – ranging from green to yellow to orange to red – and they are sweeter as they get more colorful! Do you want to add some spice to your life? The hot pepper varieties will certainly turn up the heat on any dish in which you use them. The plant on which the pepper grows is an attractive one. The foliage is deep green and the leaves are textured, making them pleasant to view. Peppers are another fairly easy veggie to grow and they are also loaded with nutrients and antioxidants for healthier eating. The more yellow the color, the higher the beta carotene content and beta carotene is really good for your eyesight.
This top 5 favorite of mine is also the favorite of a cartoon character with whom we are all familiar – Popeye the Sailor! He was always depicted as getting stronger when he popped open his always-handy can of spinach to save his love, Miss Olive Oyl, from his arch rival, Brutus.
But, on a serious note, green leafy veggies are really good sources of vitamin A which is one of the vitamins that has been discovered to strengthen retinal tissues, helping to prevent the progression of blinding eye conditions like macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. And, this is another one of those veggies that you can plant and harvest and eat the leaves when they are any size you desire. Baby spinach can be pretty expensive during some seasons at your favorite grocery store so this could really save money if you like fresh spinach in your salads or like to use fresh spinach in those yummy recipes that you love to prepare.
Basil, Thyme, Rosemary, Sage and Other Herbs
And, while we’re talking about preparing some of those yummy recipes, we simply can’t overlook the addition of fresh herbs to enhance the flavors. Herb gardens are gaining popularity and more and more people are using them when they prepare some of their old stand-by dishes to liven up the flavors. Of course, you can open any magazine while you wait your turn in the grocery or department store checkout line, and see recipe after recipe that touts a particular fresh herb or combination of fresh herbs guaranteed to WOW your family and your guests.
And, did you know that fresh herbs are not just pretty to look at and a tasty addition to your recipes but also these top 5 favorites contribute to good health with some of the nutrients contained in them. In generations past, herbs were heavily utilized to treat illnesses, infections and other maladies before some of our current and more exotic medications become available.
There are so many good, nutritious and healthy fruits, veggies and herbs that are so easy to grow in your own garden. They can be grown in almost any type or size of garden; and, when you stand back and look at what you have grown, you will feel so much better about yourself. You can even get the family involved in planting, maintaining and harvesting your “crops”. The quality time spent together can make huge differences in the lives of your children.
So, I ask you, what are your top 5 garden favorites?